I’ve been working my way through the “Wheel of Excellence,” and today I want to talk about focus.
Here is some of what Terry Orlick says about focus:
Focusing is the single most important mental skill associated with performance excellence. Focusing refers to the ability to concentrate totally on what you are doing, seeing, reading, hearing, learning, feeling, observing or experiencing while you are engaged in the activity or performance.
Where your focus goes, everything else follows. Focus leads activation, anxiety, relaxation, learning, mental readiness, personal growth and performance excellence. Let it lead wisely.
I feel like I’ve been distracted most of my life. When I was studying for the actuarial exams, I would frequently get up from the study room to get a cup of coffee, or use the restroom. But I would notice a certain few who never got up the entire time they were in there. Those few generally did well on the exams.
Oftentimes it seems like we want to be distracted from our practice. Even while we practice we watch TV, or listen to music, or an audio book, etc.
Notice that focus is most important for performance excellence: the execution of the practiced goal for before a live audience: running a race, taking a test, playing a recital, etc.
Again, while taking the actuarial exams, I can remember reading that you should take practice exams under conditions as nearly the same as those you will be tested under as possible.
You want a rhythm and ritual to your practice, by which you can gather your focus and minimize distractions at game time.
The regular practice of three kriyas from Kundalini Yoga has helped me focus: Ganpati Kriya, Radiant Body Kriya, and Kirtan Kriya. These all involve chanting, and certain mudras of the fingers. The first takes 11 minutes (first thing in the morning), the second about 40 minutes (midday), and the third about 30 minutes (evening). They have given my emotions some ballast, and have improved both my patience and my ability to concentrate.